Study: America's Poor Are Better Off Than Vast Majority of World Population

Posted: Feb 01, 2011 10:11 AM
The New York Times' Economix blog highlights a fascinating bit of data that brings our nation's relative prosperity -- even in the midst of immense hardship -- into clear focus:

Take a look at America.

Notice how the entire line for the United States resides in the top portion of the graph? That’s because the entire country is relatively rich. In fact, America’s bottom ventile is still richer than most of the world: That is, the typical person in the bottom 5 percent of the American income distribution is still richer than 68 percent of the world’s inhabitants.

Now check out the line for India. India’s poorest ventile corresponds with the 4th poorest percentile worldwide. And its richest? The 68th percentile. Yes, that’s right: America’s poorest are, as a group, about as rich as India’s richest.

Kind of blows your mind, right?

Statistics and charts do little to allay the real suffering of losing a home, nor can they rectify the indignity and desperation of extended unemployment.  They can, however, illustrate the big lie that American society is somehow a rotten and unfair system wherein the rich get richer by stomping all over the poorest of the poor.  Even in the throes of a terrible recession, ours is a relatively affluent nation -- even for the have nots.